Should the Oilers Make a Trade for Cam Talbot?

Are there any Oilers fans who remember when the team picked up Viktor Fasth? He had appeared in 30 games for the Anaheim Ducks, putting up 17 wins in the process with four shutouts. There was a glut of goalies in Anaheim and Fasth ended up becoming expendable, so the Oilers scooped him up for two draft picks back in March of 2014. Had the Oilers found a gem? Maybe the Ducks didn’t know what they had in Fasth. Maybe he could be the guy to take over the starting role.

(Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports)
(Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports)

Fasth was 31-years old when the Oilers acquired him, and it was no Tim Thomas-like story. Fasth’s numbers last season weren’t very impressive. He posted a .888 save percentage and a 3.41 goals against average. Now granted, he went through some injury problems, and let’s face it; the defence in front of him was no 90’s New Jersey Devils squad. The Oilers took a chance on Fasth, they didn’t give up too much for him, and it hasn’t quite worked out. When you acquire a goalie with such little experience, you take a risk.

Just a couple of months before the Oilers brought in Fasth, they traded for another goalie. Ben Scrivens was with the Los Angeles Kings at the time, and his numbers looked good. Through 17 games he had a .921 SA% and a 1.97 GGA to go along with three shutouts. After a couple of mediocre seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps Scrivens had found his game. He was 27 when the Oilers acquired him, that’s prime age for a goalie. Maybe this was their guy. Now I don’t want to pile on Ben Scrivens because he tries really hard, but his stint with the Oilers hasn’t been great. His numbers dipped especially low last season, and it doesn’t seem like the team has much confidence in him.

The age-old question about goalies never seems to go away in these situations, especially when you look at former Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk and his remarkable run with the Minnesota Wild. Are goalies a product of the defence in front of them? Or can really good goalies overcome their teams’ lack of skill? I’d say it’s a bit of both. It’s hard to judge goalies for bad numbers when their team is terrible. And in the same way, you have to be cautious when you see goalies come out of nowhere and have great seasons behind stronger defensive teams.

But here’s what we (and hopefully) the Oilers have learned lately. You can’t judge any goaltender properly with such a limited track record. The trade for Scrivens cost the only a third-round pick. You don’t want to be throwing away any picks but the team needed someone to be in net the past couple of seasons and Scrivens provided that. But trading away anything higher than a third-rounder, or adding a prospect or player in the deal, well that could get dicey. The Oilers defence isn’t really changed from last season. They have to be careful what they do from here on in.

Oh. Okay. Who is Cam Talbot? He’s 27-years old, has appeared in 57 regular season NHL games, all with the New York Rangers. A career .931 SP% and 2.00 GAA with eight shut-outs. That’s what we do know about Talbot. Here’s what we don’t know: are certain media types hyping this guy and what he’s worth to up his trade value? Do NHL GM’s really see Talbot and his extreme lack of experience as worth a hefty price tag? Can he become a number one goalie? Did a strong Rangers defence pad his stats? Is he really a fit in Edmonton?

I don’t see any difference between Talbot right now, and Fasth and Scrivens back when the Oilers traded for them. Let me explain why. There simply isn’t a big enough sample size. We don’t know how Talbot will look in a full season behind that Oilers defence. On the flip side, one could argue that it’s wise to pick up a guy with potential like Talbot, who is still under 30, and build the blueline along with him. That’s a fair assessment, but Talbot is going to cost a lot more than some mid to low-level draft picks, and that’s the problem.

new goalieAre the Rangers looking to obtain the 16th overall pick? There is probably a team out there who may give up a first round pick for Talbot. I really hope it’s not the Oilers. And in terms of a guy like Robin Lehner, well he’s in the exact same boat. Limited sample size, and likely costing too much. I mentioned in a previous article how a guy like Michal Neuvirth is worth kicking the tires on because he’s the same age as Talbot, and has more experience, and he’s a free agent. There are some who believe the free agent market for goalies isn’t great, but when you actually look at it, it’s not terrible. You can get a similar “unknown” guy, and he won’t cost you any assets or draft picks.

I might, and it’s a big might, consider moving the 57th overall pick for Talbot. If he could be had for a cheaper price, then yes I would take a hard look at bringing him in. But I fear that wouldn’t be enough in the Rangers eyes, especially with people driving up his price on a daily basis. At the end of the day, and until we see the deal done, we don’t know what the Rangers really desire in return for Talbot. I want to see the Oilers upgrade in net as much as you do. But is Talbot really going to be an upgrade? And is this “upgrade” really worth the price of what it’s going to cost? I’m not so sure.